What Do I Need To Get A B This Semester? (May 2017 Edition)


Really, you needed to start worrying about this earlier. Getting a high grade in any course is one of those self-reinforcing cycles. Improve your work a little bit early on and it iterates. Every bit makes every future bit that much easier. This isn’t inspirational-quote talk; this is just how it works. For mathematics courses, where most of the time one subject feeds into the next, this is obvious. It’s also obvious for mathematics-in-disguise courses like physics. But even for courses where one topic doesn’t directly lead to the next it’s so. Every subject has ways of thinking about its topics, the kinds of questions to ask and the typical sorts of answers they draw. The sooner you ask your instructor, your peers, and whatever tutoring centers are available — and they are — the better off you are.

That said, everyone wants numbers. So here’s my posts. This is the original, about how to calculate exactly the score you need on your final to get whatever course grade you want. It allows for different sorts of weighting and extra credit and all that. If you don’t want to worry about extra credit here are some tables for common final-exam weightings with which you can approximate your needed score.

Also: review the syllabus. Read and understand any study guides you have. Review the in-course exams and homework assignments. Eat regularly and sleep as fully as you can the week or so before the exam; you do not have any problems that sleep deprivation will make better.

(Yes, this post is early. The schools I’m loosely affiliated with started early this term.)

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What Do I Need To Pass This Class? (December 2016 Edition)


Chatting with friends made me aware some schools have already started finals. So I’m sorry to be late with this. But for those who need it here’s my ancient post on how to calculate the minimum score you need on the final to get the grade you want in the class. And for those who see my old prose style and recoil in horror I’m sorry. I was less experienced back then. Don’t look smug; you were too. But here’s a set of tables for common grade distributions, so you don’t have to do any calculations yourself. Just look up numbers instead.

With that information delivered, let me say once more: what you really need is to start preparing early, and consistently. Talk with your instructor about stuff you don’t understand, and stuff you think you understand, early on. Don’t give a line about the grade you need; that puts an inappropriate pressure on the instructor to grade you incorrectly. Study because it’s worth studying. Even if you don’t see why the subject is interesting, it is something that people smarter than you have spent a lot of time thinking about. It’s worth figuring out something of what they know that you don’t yet.

What’s Needed To Pass This Class (Spring 2016 Edition)


I had thought we were barely entering Final Exam season. But I hear reports many (United States) colleges and universities have already got them started. And I see what people are searching for around my writing here. So let me help folks out here.

Here, under “What Do I Need To Pass This Class”, besides start worrying about grades sooner, is an explanation of how to calculate exactly what score one needs. It allows for the exam to have any weighting possible, and for extra credit points to be considered, to get any desired score. And then since not everyone looking for their grade is actually a mathematics student interested in following equations that, I believe, are well-explained, I put together some tables with the results for some common final exam weightings and target scores. The tables include what scores are needed for finals that are one-fifth, one-quarter, one-third, and two-fifths the total course grade.

Good luck. Read the syllabus and any test preparation sheets the instructor gives. Get a full night’s sleep before and eat well the day of the exam. Don’t pester with e-mails asking for extra credit. Only bother your professor with requests to correct errors of fact, which would be recorded grades or an error in calculation. Have your returned assignment to show, and understand how weighted grades work, before you do.

Exam Grades And Ramsey Theory


While I don’t have any topics overwhelming my search-engine profile, I do see the rise in people looking up what they need to pass their class, or to get a desired minimum grade. The sorry answer is, they needed to start work sooner. But here’s the formula for working it out, for whatever your course average to date is, whatever score you want, whatever extra credit is available, all that. And here’s tables for some of the common cases, if you’re afraid of the formulas.

And for pleasantly recreational mathematics … I forget which mathematics twitter account that I follow posted the above. But it links to “Ramsey Theory in the Dining Room”. I’d mentioned the field last month because its question about organizing dinner-party guests somehow got a Dear Abby correspondent all angry in the late 70s.

Brian Hayes there ran across an application of the theory that gets away from dinner-party invites and into table place settings. It’s worth a read, particularly for the challenge posed. Hayes thought, briefly, he had solved a question in Ramsey Theory, one that’s easy to understand — you’ll understand the question — but that everyone else in the field has found too hard to answer. He doubted his result, but didn’t think until the next day of why he was wrong. Can you spot where he went wrong? (It’s a subtle flaw in the reasoning, but one an eight-year-old would understand, so I recommend trying to think like one.)

What Do I Need To Pass This Class? (December 2014 Edition)


I don’t mean to repeat myself too much, but it is finals season for United States colleges on a semesterly schedule so, here. Good luck, people who’re minutes away from their final exams.

nebusresearch

It’s finals season, at least for colleges that run on a semesterly schedule, and a couple of my posts are turning up in search query results again. So I thought it worth drawing a little more attention to them and hopefully getting people what they need sooner.

The answer: you need to study a steady but not excessive bit every night from now to before the exam; you need to get a full night of sleep before the exam; and you really needed to pay attention in class and do the fiddly little assignments all semester, so, sorry it’s too late for that. Also you need to not pointlessly antagonize your professor; even if you don’t like this class, you could have taken others to meet your academic requirement, so don’t act like you were dragged into Topics in Civilization: Death against your will even if it does satisfy three

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20,000: My Math Blog’s Statistics


I reached my 20,000th view around here sometime on the final day of 2014, which is an appealingly tidy coincidence. I’m glad for it. It also gives me a starting point to review the blog’s statistics, as gathered by WordPress, which is trying to move us to a new and perfectly awful statistics page that shows less information more inconveniently.

The total number of page views grew from 625 in October to 674 in November all the way to 831 in December 2014, which just ties my record number of viewers from back in January 2013. The number of unique visitors grew from October’s 323 to November’s 366 up to 424 total, which comes in second-place to January 2013’s 473. I don’t know what I was doing in January 2013 that I’m only gradually getting back up to these days. The number of views per visitor went from 1.93, to 1.84, back up to 1.96, which is probably just a meaningless fluctuation. January 2013 had 1.76.

My most popular articles — with 25 views or more each — were Reading The Comics posts, mostly, with the exceptions being two things almost designed to be clickbait, although I mean them sincerely:

  1. Reading the Comics, December 14, 2014: Pictures Gone Again? Edition, in which I work out one of the calculus-y expressions and find it isn’t all that interesting.
  2. Reading the Comics, December 5, 2014: Good Questions Edition, in which I figured out a Dark Side Of The Horse comic was using a page of symbols from orbital perturbation problems.
  3. Reading the Comics, December 27, 2014: Last of the Year Edition?, which it wasn’t, and which let me talk about how Sally Brown is going to discover rational numbers if Charlie Brown doesn’t over-instruct her.
  4. Reading The Comics, December 22, 2015: National Mathematics Day Edition, which celebrated Srinivasa Ramanujan’s birth by showing a formula that Leonhard Euler discovered, but Euler’s formula is much more comic-strip-readable than any of Ramanujan’s.
  5. What Do I Need To Pass This Class? (December 2014 Edition), which gathered and reposted for general accessibility the formula and the charts so people can figure out what the subject line says. Also what you need to get a B, or A, or any other desired grade. (Mostly, you needed to start caring about your grade earlier.)
  6. How Many Trapezoids I Can Draw, my life’s crowning achievement. (Six. If you find a seventh please let me know and I’ll do a follow-up post.)

The country sending me the most readers was, as ever, Bangladesh with 535 viewers. Well, two viewers, but it’s boring just listing the United States up front every time. The United Kingdom (37) and Canada (33) came up next, then Argentina (17), which surprises me every month by having a healthy number of readers there, Australia (12), Austria (11), and the Netherlands (10), proving that people in countries that don’t start with ‘A’ can still kind of like me too. The single-reader countries this month were the Czech Republic, Greece, Macedonia, Mexico, Romania, and South Africa. That’s far fewer than last month; of November’s 17 single-reader countries only Romania is a repeat.

Among search terms that brought people here were popeye comic computer king — I don’t know just how that’s going to end up either, folks, but I’m guessing “not that satisfyingly”, since Bud Sagendorf was fond of shaggy-dog non-endings to tales — and which reindeer was in arthur christmas (they were descendants of the “Original” canonical eight, though Grand-Santa forgets some of the names), daily press, “the dinette set” answer for december 11, 2014, and solution to the comic puzzle, “the dinette set”. in the daily press, december 12, 2014, and answer to the comic puzzle, “the dinette set”. in the daily press, december 12, 2014, which suggests maybe I should ditch the pop-math racket and just get into explaining The Dinette Set, which is admittedly kind of a complicated panel strip. There’s multiple riffs around the central joke in each panel, but if you don’t get the main joke then the riffs look like they’re part of the main joke, and they aren’t, so the whole thing becomes confusing. And the artist includes a “Find-It” bit in every panel, usually hiding something like a triangle or a star or something in the craggly details of the art and that can be hard to find. Mostly, though, the joke is: these people are genially and obliviously obnoxious people who you might love but you’d still find annoying. That’s it, nearly every panel. I hope that helps.

What Do I Need To Pass This Class? (December 2014 Edition)


It’s finals season, at least for colleges that run on a semesterly schedule, and a couple of my posts are turning up in search query results again. So I thought it worth drawing a little more attention to them and hopefully getting people what they need sooner.

The answer: you need to study a steady but not excessive bit every night from now to before the exam; you need to get a full night of sleep before the exam; and you really needed to pay attention in class and do the fiddly little assignments all semester, so, sorry it’s too late for that. Also you need to not pointlessly antagonize your professor; even if you don’t like this class, you could have taken others to meet your academic requirement, so don’t act like you were dragged into Topics in Civilization: Death against your will even if it does satisfy three general-education requirements at the cost of being a 7:50 am section.

Anyway, that doesn’t help figuring out whether you can relax as soon as you get 82.3 percent of the final right or if you have to strain to get that 82.6. So let me point to those: What Do I Need To Pass This Class? (December 2013 Edition) gives an expression for working out the score you need, and shows how to develop that formula, based on things like the pre-final grade, the weight given the exam, and extra credit (or demerits) that you’ve received, and is therefore good for absolutely any weighted-average based course grade you might have.

That also involves formulas, though, and I know that makes people nervous, so What Do I Need To Get An A In This Class? simplifies matters a bit by working out a couple common cases: for finals worth 40, 33, 30, 25, and 20 percent of the class, based on pre-final averages, what final exam grade do you need to get to at least a given level. Good luck, but you really shouldn’t be scrounging for points. Study because it’s fun to learn things and the grades will be good of their own accord.

What Do I Need To Get An A In This Class?


And this post makes matters a little bit simpler, by showing charts of what minimum scores one needs on the final to get various minimum scores, for different final exam weightings. And, yes, if you’re going into a final exam with a high enough average, it’s conceivable that you could pass, or even get a better-than-passing, score with a zero on the final. Don’t do that. It makes your instructor sad. Just be less tense about the final instead.

nebusresearch

After writing my bit about how to figure out what grade you need to pass your class, I thought some more and realized that while everything in it is true, it’s not necessarily helpful, because people get panicky at formulas. So I thought to make up some tables showing what you need, if you go in with a certain grade, to pass, or get a B, or an A, or what not, for different weightings of the final exam. That’s easy enough to do especially once I set up a Matlab (well, an Octave) script to build the tables for me.

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What Do I Need To Pass This Class?


I haven’t gone in for reblogging my own posts, but, I realized I have two that are somewhat timely. That’s my post about how to calculate the minimum grade you need on the final exam to get a desired final score, and then a set of tables that work out the minimum scores for people who aren’t confident they’re going to get the formula worked out right. I hope people will be patient with repetitions of these postings. This is the post with the complete formula, and instructions how to work it out, so, it’s to be used by those who felt they knew what was going on in pre-algebra and regular algebra.

nebusresearch

I admit a bit of difficulty in identifying with people who are very worried about their grades. I stopped worrying about my grades somewhere around fifth grade, when I missed a straight-A report card by one question on one spelling test and decided the stress wasn’t worth it for changing one B+ into an A-. But it’s a question instructors get, increasingly, as the final exam approaches, and students are almost never satisfied with the correct answers, especially when circumstances require a time machine. I suppose I understand the despair in that case.

Anyway, working out the minimum grade you need to pass — or what you need to get an A, or to get a B, or whatever you like — is an easy enough problem it’s surprising when students don’t work it out on their own. Maybe they don’t realize this is what they learn algebra for. But…

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December 2013’s Statistics


There’s a hopeful trend in my readership statistics for December 2013 around these parts: according to WordPress, my number of readers grew from 308 in November to 352 and the number of unique visitors grew from 158 to 176. Even the number of views per visitor grew, from 1.95 to 2.00. None of these are records, but the fact of improvement is a good one.

I can’t figure exactly how to get the report on most popular articles for the exact month of December, and was too busy with other things to check the past-30-day report on New Year’s Eve, but at least the most popular articles for the 30 days ending today were:

The countries sending me the most readers were the United States, Canada, Denmark and Austria (tied, and hi again, Elke), and the United Kingdom. Sending me just one viewer each were a slew of nations: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and Viet Nam. On that list last month were Jordan and Slovenia, so I’m also marginally interesting to a different group of people this time around.

This has all caused me to realize that I failed to promote my string of articles inspired by Arthur Christmas and getting to the recurrence theorem and the existential dread of the universe’s end during the Christmas season. Maybe next year, then.

What Do I Need If The Final Is Worth 40 Percent?


I suspected that my little pair of articles about what scores you need on the final to pass a class (or get an A, or such) would prove useful, which is almost as good as being informative. I noticed in the search queries bringing people to my pages a question about what a person needed for a course where the final was 40 percent of the class score. I hadn’t put that in my original set of tables, and if the searcher followed my first article — about how to work out what you need for any weighting of the final exam — then she or he got what was needed. I just didn’t think of finals being quite that heavily weighted. But, what the heck, if people want to see the tables worth 40 percent, it’s easy enough to generate them, and I added that to the collection of scores-needed tables. Good luck next term.

What Do I Need To Get An A In This Class?


After writing my bit about how to figure out what grade you need to pass your class, I thought some more and realized that while everything in it is true, it’s not necessarily helpful, because people get panicky at formulas. So I thought to make up some tables showing what you need, if you go in with a certain grade, to pass, or get a B, or an A, or what not, for different weightings of the final exam. That’s easy enough to do especially once I set up a Matlab (well, an Octave) script to build the tables for me.

Continue reading “What Do I Need To Get An A In This Class?”

What Do I Need To Pass This Class?


I admit a bit of difficulty in identifying with people who are very worried about their grades. I stopped worrying about my grades somewhere around fifth grade, when I missed a straight-A report card by one question on one spelling test and decided the stress wasn’t worth it for changing one B+ into an A-. But it’s a question instructors get, increasingly, as the final exam approaches, and students are almost never satisfied with the correct answers, especially when circumstances require a time machine. I suppose I understand the despair in that case.

Anyway, working out the minimum grade you need to pass — or what you need to get an A, or to get a B, or whatever you like — is an easy enough problem it’s surprising when students don’t work it out on their own. Maybe they don’t realize this is what they learn algebra for. But here’s how to do it.

Continue reading “What Do I Need To Pass This Class?”